The poverty of entitlement (2)
Unfortunately for Somaliland, Ethiopia may maintain an overriding interest in maintaining the status-quo of a divided Somali Horn of Africa which allows it to use its patronage towards somewhere like Somaliland to achieve maximum political, military and economic leverage. For the US– often the ultimate broker in these politics of secession (think Eritreain the early 90s and South Sudan now) – its strategic relationship with Ethiopia, which continues to be viewed as a Christian democratic bastion in a sea of barbarians, continues to override any advocacy on behalf of Somaliland recognition. The fact that Ethiopia doesn’t appear particularly democratic these days and may not even by a Christian majority country any more is by the by. The EU follows a similar line when countries such as the UK pledge increased aid for the Somali Horn whilst simultaneously avoiding the tricky issue of clearly defining which legitimate political agents that patronage should be distributed to. Support doesn’t imply recognition, though if you don’t recognize the legitimacy of its political claim then how can it be considered to be a legitimate recipient and executor of the support given? Again, these are tricky questions best left unanswered….
People always ask me here (usually when sticking a TV camera in my face for being one of the only whiteys at these kind of political events) if Somalilandshould be recognized. One of these days I’ll answer that it’s a stupid question, but seeing people’s determination and pride in the developments of stability in Somaliland I never have the heart to do so. In fact, two decades of this nationalist quest for legitimized self-determination has perhaps created a nationalist narrative which goes someway to holding an otherwise tribally and economically fragmented society together and perhaps that may have value in itself. On the other hand if this sad story of pleading for recognition continues much longer then people here might think to tell the international community to stuff its recognition and that too may not be such a bad thing. It may at least be a response that recognizes the reality of the real-politick and Somaliland’s small (but proud) place in a world of geopolitics.